Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Does addiction ever go away?

(27 Posts)
Treetop12 Mon 17-Oct-16 14:09:09

Cocaine addiction that is.

Cutting a long story short - my boyfriend has used cocaine for around 15 years. he used to use a lot more, and now turns to it around once every month. Or that's what I know about. It wouldn't surprise me if it was more and if he was hiding it, which he has done in the past.

If he really does want to change . . .is it possible to get completely clean, or will there always be a struggle in certain situations?

I guess no one can really answer that question. Just feeling pretty down about it today, and MN always gives good advice.

Any experience in this?

xxx

user1468321775 Mon 17-Oct-16 14:29:27

I don't have any experience on cocaine, but more on alcohol - in my opinion all addictions are the same, 5the substance is irrelevant after a while. My experience is that it doesn't really ever go away, yes they can get clean (huge struggle and not a quick thing) but they have to be FULLY committed to doing so. We haven't got to that stage yet, we are still in the cycle of realisation/denial...it's a complete roundabout and it is pretty exhausting.

Do you feel he is ready to get control of this? I'm waiting on that epiphany but 12 years down the line it's still not happened - I don't think everyone has that moment tho, I reside myself to them just being addicted forever.

nurseinwonderland Mon 17-Oct-16 14:39:08

In my experience you can overcome them, but the temptation is always there. DH smoked pot for years and despite my nagging and threatening to leave, he always managed to find the money.
But around 3 years ago, he decided enough was enough, gave it up and stopped smoking completely. He now wishes he had done it sooner and cannot believe he wasted so much money.
However, he has a very addictive all or nothing personality. He throws himself into work, he cannot just have one drink socially, he has to get drunk. But he is aware of this and steers away from destructive situations.
I've believed in him for nearly 20 years, it's nice to see that he is believing in himself now after a pretty shitty childhood.

Treetop12 Mon 17-Oct-16 14:47:09

Thanks for the replies. I guess every situation is so different, so it's hard to advise on what to do.

my OH just seems to get these massive cravings, and nothing will get in his way.

I just find it so sad, as he is a lovely person other than this. someone on here wrote once that you can't change someone, so you just have to decide on what your limits/boundaries are. unfortunately I think im coming to the end of my limit with this.

Thanks again

Thisjustinno Mon 17-Oct-16 15:13:40

Addiction to alcohol or drugs never goes away. In simplistic terms it 'rewires' the brain to want that substance and feel the best when it receives those substances. The absence of those substances causes anxiety, lethargy, depression etc etc. Even after a lengthy period of abstinence; just one use of the substance can re-trigger the brains dependence.

An abstinence programme is very possible and many would say; the only solution. But it's really hard. As much as the addict knows their addiction is destroying their life - their brain tells them that the only solution to the deeply uncomfortable feelings of stress,anxiety,depression etc is to use more of the drug.

That's why so many people relapse. It's neurobiology. But it is very possible to get clean and stay that way but usually requires involvement of a community such as AA or NA.

Treetop12 Mon 17-Oct-16 15:37:36

I don't think he would be willing to find help, as I don't think he sees it as a problem.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 17-Oct-16 16:21:29

Oh, I was about to ask what he was doing about it because only he can change things but your last post indicates he is doing nothing about it.

So is your question "Does addiction to cocaine ever just go away on its own without the addict ever realising they had a problem?"

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 17-Oct-16 16:23:41

You are desperately clutching at straws here and I think you know it.

What's your next move?

mymilkshakes00 Mon 17-Oct-16 16:35:45

First step is to admit you have a problem. If he doesn't see it that then it will be useless.
My brother was addicted to crack/cocaine for 20 years. For the last few years of his life he was doing very well until his wife wanted a divorce and couldn't handle the stress. Relapsed.
He passed away two years ago from liver failure.

It's just my experience with dealing with a drug addict. If can escalate quietly behind your back. So before you know it you're all in knee deep.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.

nurseinwonderland Mon 17-Oct-16 16:43:06

If the desire for change is not there, then change won't happen. Sometimes you have to know when to walk away.
My DH knows if he ever goes back to it that's the end.

Treetop12 Mon 17-Oct-16 16:54:53

He thinks that he has got control of it, but for me it's still an issue. I don't like being apart from him, as I feel like he hides it from me.

For context on this post . . .he went out for wine on Friday night, and came home with coke. I asked me to not do it and he point blank refused.

Treetop12 Mon 17-Oct-16 17:03:00

*I asked him not to do it . . .that was meant to say

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 17-Oct-16 17:49:51

Well, that's that then isn't it?

Do you have DC?

CiaoVerona Mon 17-Oct-16 18:06:59

Well, if hes using once a month he has some type of control over his use, not everyone that uses drugs is an addict the probability is hes aged out of his behavior. The facts are the majority of people that use drugs develop no addictions what so ever.

LobsterQuadrille Mon 17-Oct-16 18:07:42

As a PP said, if you have an addictive personality (for want of a better phrase) then that doesn't go away. You tend to overdo everything. However - and I speak as someone who's been attending AA for many years - you can control the cravings that you once felt so that you don't experience them any more. I was a terrible alcoholic (slight oxymoron there) - really far down the line, 24 hour drinking. The idea now fills me with horror - but I also realise that I cannot have one drink, because that would immediately trigger in me a chemical reaction, which is why they say that the first drink is a choice and the next 1,000 are not.

In AA meetings, a majority talk about drugs and alcohol together and I know many, many people who were once hooked on cocaine and have been clean for over 20 years and wouldn't dream of going back to those days. But to recover, you have to hit your own rock bottom and you have to want to recover more than anything else in the world. It makes sense, because if you carry on your destructive path, you stand to lose everything you have. Half-heartedness doesn't work - step one is that we admitted that we were powerless over (substance) and that our lives had become unmanageable. That's the starting point and once your OH is at this point then yes, there is hope. Good luck.

wonderwoo Mon 17-Oct-16 18:20:13

I echo previous posters saying that addiction never goes away, but if you want to stop using whatever substance, you can do it, with a great deal of determination.

However it sounds like your DP is quite happy with things the way they are. So the question is, where does your boundary lie... does a once a month habit mean the end of the relationship? What concerns me most is your uncertainty about how truthful he is about whether he uses more often. And I would agree that you cannot trust an addict in active addiction.

I am sorry you are feeling down. But I truly think that at this point you need to be considering what YOU want (based on how he is at present because you have no or true power or influence over his addiction) and where YOUR boundaries lie, because it doesn't sound like your DP is wanting to change.

CiaoVerona Mon 17-Oct-16 18:39:59

Well, without denigrating your experience in 12 step the treatment of addiction has thankfully moved onto a medically evidenced basis which has concluded much of the addicted for life is factually not true.

Alleygater Mon 17-Oct-16 19:04:58

I don't think anyone said they were addicted for life more that both in layman's terms and because of neurobiological pathways, the risk is always there, and an addict cannot use substances like a non-addict in the future. I think most theories agree on that?
You will see a lot of addicts in recovery post on MN and a good chunk of them have got well with 12 step ideology. I personally wouldn't knock what's worked for anybody.

OP if he doesn't see there's a problem, and you are asking him not to do it, you're getting into a real co-dependent cycle where you are trying to manage him and he is trying to manage his substance and both of these things are simply unmanageable. Where's your line in the sand? What if he never gives up - do you still want to be with him?
Al-Anon is not just for the families of alcoholics but addicts too - you might find it really helpful to go to half a dozen meetings and see whether it helps.

CiaoVerona Mon 17-Oct-16 20:42:08

Well, there has being a lot of research into whats called moderate drinking and they have found that Yes some people they thought as being chronic could in fact go back and drink without getting addicted.

Sadly, much of the discourse around addiction used to be centered around 12 step I won't bore you with why that happened. Thankfully, we are now heading in direction that treats people with evidenced based treatments.

springydaffs Mon 17-Oct-16 22:56:13

Really, Ciao?

sounds bollocks to me tbh

An addict is an addict for life. You say he is ott about everything, extremes; and once a month doesn't at all indicate he isn't an addict. It's what it means to him is the crux.

And it sounds like you know it comes first with him. That's the relationship-killer: are you happy to take second place? Because you will only ever be second place with an addict in active addiction.

CiaoVerona Tue 18-Oct-16 00:49:04

Well, Springy this may help.

Recovery from heroin addiction is rare.

The prognosis for heroin addiction seems grim because of the high mortality rate and because rehabs typically report relapse rates of 60 percent or greater. However, the odds of recovery are better than they appear.

Early evidence for this idea came from studies of Vietnam veterans, who should have had particularly high addiction and relapse risk because young men are the group most at risk for addiction in general. Heroin and opium were cheap and easily available to American servicemen overseas; nearly half tried these drugs, and half of these soldiers became addicted.

But upon returning home, just 12 percent of those who had been addicted relapsed within three years, and only 2 percent were still addicted at the end of the study — nowhere near 60 percent. Fewer than half got any treatment, and it didn’t make a difference in terms of who recovered.

This phenomenon, known as “natural recovery” or “maturing out” of addiction, is common with other drugs, too. Large population surveys show that most people who are addicted to alcohol or cocaine quit without treatment. The same type of study shows that around 60 percent of people who met the criteria for prescription opioid addiction at one time no longer do so — and a third of them never received any treatment. This research also finds that the average prescription opioid addiction lasts eight years; for heroin, the average is a decade. For alcohol, the average addiction lasts 15 years.

So why do heroin addicts appear so hopeless in the public imagination? Because people who quit on their own don’t show up for treatment — and so, while they are included in large epidemiological studies, they aren’t included in treatment research. This means that rehabs see only the worst cases, leading to an unduly pessimistic picture of recovery.

Although opioid addiction certainly can be deadly, it doesn’t have to be — and those who struggle with it should absolutely seek help. Still, more research is needed to understand what people who recover without help can teach those who need it.

CiaoVerona Tue 18-Oct-16 00:50:54

4. Tough love is the only thing that works. Programs that distribute clean needles and overdose-reversal drugs prolong addiction.

The idea that people with addiction must “hit bottom” — or experience the worst possible consequences — before they can get better is prevalent among parents and policymakers. One drug court official told a researcher that “force is the best medicine” for treating addiction, and the 12-step program Al-Anon warns against “enabling” addiction by doing things like helping people avoid jail.

But research shows that the opposite is true. Like any other human beings, people with addiction respond best to being treated with dignity, care and respect. Programs that nonjudgmentally distribute clean needles, provide overdose-reversal drugs or offer safe spaces for injection do not prolong addiction; in fact, a Canadian study found that 57 percent of people who came to a safe injection facility to shoot up ultimately entered treatment. An approach for helping addicted family members that uses kindness, rather than confrontation or detachment, was found in another study to be twice as effective as a traditional confrontational “intervention” — and no studies show that harsh treatment or incarceration is superior to empathetic care.

Similarly, there is no evidence that naloxone programs, which provide users and their families with the overdose-reversal drug, prolong addiction. But they do prolong life: The overdose death rate was cut by nearly 50 percent in communities that fully implemented these programs.

Treetop12 Tue 18-Oct-16 13:46:32

Thank-you everyone for your comments. Some really interesting stuff to read through.

I think the poster that mentioned my own boundaries and what im ok with has struck a cord with me. he knows I don't like it, and ive asked him to stop, but he hasn't. am I ok with this? no im not. Do I want children with him? no, probably not.

I guess that's my answer.

Thanks again

wonderwoo Tue 18-Oct-16 14:36:51

Good luck treetop. Live the life you want to live. flowers

Treetop12 Tue 18-Oct-16 15:29:02

Thank-you wonderwoo

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now